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16 aprile 2010

Nadi Sodhana

If you don't do anything else, this is a simple yoga breathing exercise that can be done virtually anywhere, anyplace. You will be glad you did. It is simply dynamic!

The name alternate nostril breathing is due to the fact that we alternate between the two nostrils when we do the breathing. Yogis believe that this exercise will clean and rejuvenate your vital channels of energy, thus the name nadi sodhana (purification of nadis or channels).

With this exercise, we breathe through only one nostril at a time. The logic behind this exercise is that normal breathing does alternate from one nostril to the other at various times during the day. In a healthy person the breath will alternate between nostrils about every two hours. Because most of us are not in optimum health, this time period varies considerably between people and further reduces our vitality. 

According to the yogis, when the breath continues to flow in one nostril for more than two hours, as it does with most of us, it will have an adverse effect on our health. If the right nostril is involved, the result is mental and nervous disturbance. If the left nostril is involved, the result is chronic fatigue and reduced brain function. The longer the flow of breath in one nostril, the more serious the illness will be.


The exercise produces optimum function to both sides of the brain: that is optimum creativity and optimum logical verbal activity. This also creates a more balanced person, since both halves of the brain are functioning property.

The yogis consider this to be the best technique to calm the mind and the nervous system.
The Scientific Confirmation of Alternate Nostril Breathing. Medical science has recently discovered the nasal cycle, something that was known by the yogis thousands of years ago. 

Scientists have recently found that we don't breathe equally with both nostrils, that one nostril is much easier to breathe through than the other at any particular time and that this alternates about every three hours. 

The yogis claim that the natural period is every two hours, but we must remember these studies were done on people who do not have an optimum health level.

Scientists also discovered that the nasal cycle corresponds with brain function. The electrical activity of the brain was found to be greater on the side opposite the less congested nostril. The right side of the brain controls creative activity, while the left side controls logical verbal activity. 

The research showed that when the left nostril was less obstructed, the right side of the brain was predominant. Test subjects were indeed found to do better on creative tests. Similarly when the right nostril was less obstructed the left side of the brain was predominant. Test subjects did better on verbal skills.

Medical science has not quite caught up with the ancient yogis yet. The yogis went one step further. They observed that a lot of disease was due to the nasal cycle being disturbed; that is, if a person breathed for too long through one nostril. To prevent and correct this condition, they developed the alternate nostril breathing technique. 

This clears any blockage to air flow in the nostrils and reestablishes the natural nasal cycle. For example, the yogis have known for a long time that prolonged breathing through the left nostril only (over a period of years) will produce asthma. 

They also know that this so-called incurable disease can be easily eliminated by teaching the patient to breathe through the right nostril until the asthma is cured, and then to prevent it recurring by doing the alternate nostril breathing technique. The yogis also believe that diabetes is caused to a large extent by breathing mainly through the right nostril.


Close the right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through the left nostril. Do this to the count of four seconds.

Immediately close the left nostril with your right ring finger and little finger, and at the same time remove your thumb from the right nostril, and exhale through this nostril. 

Do this to the count of eight seconds. This completes a half round.

Inhale through the right nostril to the count of four seconds. Close the right nostril with your right thumb and exhale through the left nostril to the count of eight seconds. This completes one full round.

Start by doing three rounds, adding one per week until you are doing seven rounds.

Alternate nostril breathing should not be practiced if you have a cold or if your nasal passages are blocked in any way. Forced breathing through the nose may lead to complications. 

In pranayama it is important to follow this rule: under no circumstances should anything be forced. If you use the nostrils for breath control they must be unobstructed. If they are not, you must practice throat breathing.

Working in the dark

Nadi Sodhana (Alternate Nostril) breathing is exactly what the title says.
We breathe in and out, alternating the nostrils for each inhale and exhale.
This is often called "Sukha Pranayama", meaning comfortable or happy breath.
It is a wonderful beginner practice, yet people will continue with this for years and years. After practicing, you feel enriched and relaxed.


Nadi Sodhana should be practiced seated. 
As always, be aware of your back and maintain a long open spine.

Vishnu Mudra

The position of your right hand
  • Curl your index finger and middle finger, letting them rest in your palm
  • You will be using your thumb and ring finger
  • Notice that when you first put your index and middle finger in your palm that the ring finger and pinkie look and feel somewhat strange
    That's fine, just let it happen. Try to keep the ring finger and pinkie relaxed.
  • Practice this for a few minutes by allowing your hand to rest on a tabletop, rather than holding it up in the air
  • You'll find that your whole upper arm relaxes when you do this, and now it's easier to relax your hand
  • Remember that breathing practices begin with an exhale
Nadi Sodhana
  1. Exhale completely, then take a relaxed breath in
  2. With your right hand in Vishnu Mudra, cover your right nostril with your right thumb
  3. Exhale out your left nostril
  4. Inhale through your left nostril
  5. Cover your left nostril with your ring finger
  6. Release your right nostril
  7. Exhale out your right nostril
  8. Inhale through your right nostril
Steps 2 through 8 are one round. Breathe softly, attentively, and completely.

If you are new to this practice, practice either 6 or 9 rounds. Then stop.

Notice how you feel and continue breathing post-birth.<.br> The whole point of all of this is your health and well-being - not to finish the practice.


  • Take long full abdominal breaths
  • Keep your body relaxed yet maintain the elongated spine
  • Don't worry about the pattern of the breathing.
    You will probably find that it is quite uneven and weird at first.
    Just keep going, and, as with all Yoga practice, be gentle and forgiving with yourself.
Benefits of Nadi Sodhana
  • Visualize your pelvic girdle - see the bowl of the pelvis as it rests in your lower torso
  • Slowly rotate the pelvis under and forward - toward your pubic bone - feel the back loosen